Friday, May 25, 2012

Remember

Going into Memorial Day, I’m preparing for a busy weekend. I’m having some friends over for a cookout on Sunday and then going canoeing with some others on Monday. We’re putting up an aboveground pool to play in all summer today since yesterday was my son’s last day of school. 


During all this activity we don’t want to forget to honor our fallen soldiers.  My son says he wants to say a few words at the cookout and asked me to find a verse that he can use in his “speech.”  We were at his grandmother’s house when he asked me and she mentioned John 15:13 “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”


That’s what it’s all about, isn’t it?  Having the courage to put your life on the line for others.  We honor those that have done that for us this Monday.  We must never forget them.


May is also Older Americans Month, and I think they’re a population that can also be easily forgotten so I’d like to share an organization with you that both honors and helps our older citizens.  It’s called Little Brothers Friends of the Elderly.
Little Brothers coordinates a Friendly Visiting Program, where a volunteer is matched with a friend who is sixty or older and has no support in the area. The volunteer visits the friend at least a couple of times a month with a one year commitment. 


Little Brothers sponsors many other programs as well such as regular phone contact programs. It also provides holiday celebration parties and need cooks, drivers, servers and companions.  Others bring food to elders who aren’t mobile in their homes.  You can also escort elders to medical appointments. 
Little Brothers programs are located in Boston, Philadelphia, Cincinnati, Chicago, Michigan, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Omaha and San Francisco.  If you don’t live in one of these places, there are other ways to help the elderly.
Contact your local Area Agency on Aging by visiting www.eldercare.gov or calling 1-800-677-1116 to find ongoing opportunities to celebrate and support older Americans. 


This year’s theme for Older Americans Month—Never Too Old to Play!—puts a spotlight on the important role older adults play in sharing their experience, wisdom and understanding, and passing on that knowledge to other generations in a variety of significant ways. Older adults continue to bring value to our communities through spirited participation in social and faith groups, service organizations, and other activities. Instead of being stuck somewhere on their own, older people need to get out and be a part of their communities with the help of others.

So let’s remember those who have fallen in service and those who are at the end of their lives, both for having given so much.  Happy Memorial Day!

Friday, May 18, 2012

For Mental Health Awareness Month and Women's Health Week

For Mental Health Awareness Month and Women's Health Week, I have asked Mental Health Advocate Jennifer Moyer a few questions to help us learn about mental health and get involved with mental health issues.
1.     Tell us a little about yourself and how you want to help others as a mental health advocate.
My name is Jennifer Moyer.  I am first and foremost a wife and mother.  I strive to give hope and inspiration to individuals and families that are facing mental health issues.  I have volunteered in the area of mental health issues related to childbearing since 2000.  I began as a Volunteer Coordinator with Postpartum Support International (www.postpartum.net).  As a Coordinator, I provided emotional, practical and informational support to women and families dealing with mental health issues related to childbearing.  Although I am no longer an active Coordinator with Postpartum Support International, I continue to be a member and promote the awareness, prevention and treatment of mental illness related to childbearing, as well as mental health, in general.  I do this as a writer, speaker and advocate for mental health.  I want others to know that they are not alone, they are not to blame and things can get better with proper care and treatment. Having a mental health advocate, whether that is a family member, loved one or someone else, to help provide information and let individuals know that it is their right to have proper care and treatment, can make a big difference in achieving and maintaining recovery.

2.       Why is Mental Health Month important?
Mental Health Month is important because, during the month of May, communities all over the United States are helping to educate Americans about mental illness and mental health.  Mental health is important because it affects every aspect of our life.  Without a healthy, balanced and positive attitude towards life, many areas of one’s life suffer.  It can affect everything from physical health to self-image.  Many people suffer from mental illness, which can be very debilitating.  Helping others to understand and identify mental illness as well as to educate others about mental illness is very important.  Every month should be mental health month but the month of May has been designated with the advocacy efforts of Mental Health America (www.mentalhealthamerica.net) as the month for extra focus on educating others about mental illness and mental health.

3.       How can people get involved in helping the mentally ill or with women’s mental health? 
The best way for individuals to get involved is to educate themselves about mental illness.  Education is so important because it helps increase awareness, helps individuals to seek treatment and helps in eliminating stigma.  If a person wants to become more involved, I encourage him or her to contact a local mental health association to see how best to get involved.   Mental Health America has affiliates throughout the United States.  There are other associations such as NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) and Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance.  Other great resources for information are the National Institute of Mental Health and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office on Women’s Health.  Getting involved, even in a small way, makes a difference in the life of someone with a mental illness.

4.       What is the reason for having Women’s Health Awareness Week?
The 13th annual National Women’s Health Week kicks off on Mother’s Day, May 13, 2012 and is celebrated until May 19, 2012. National Women’s Checkup Day was Monday, May 14, 2012.  The importance of women’s health awareness week is that women often put their needs aside to serve as caregivers for their families.  As a result, women’s health and well-being can become secondary.  National Women’s Health Week encourages women to make their health a top priority.  According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office on Women’s Health, as a community, we should support the important women we know and do everything we can to help them take steps for longer, healthier, and happier lives.

5.       What do you feel are the most important issues that America needs to address in mental health?
I believe we need to provide education about mental illnesses and the importance of caring for our mental health.  Education helps eliminate stigma, which I believe to be a big issue that America needs to address.  Education brings understanding and helps eliminate stigma especially if we begin providing education at a young age.  In my opinion, another important issue is access to care and treatment.  There are still many individuals that have mental illness yet they are not able to receive treatment and preventative care.  The health care system, particularly in the area of mental health, needs to become proactive and strive to encourage prevention and wellness.  Often the focus is on just treating symptoms.

6.       You specialize in postpartum mental illness. What percentage of women experience it and what are some signs of it?
Mental illness related to childbearing has a spectrum of disorders but the one most talked about is postpartum depression.  Postpartum depression occurs in approximately 1 out of 8 women.  Symptoms can occur anytime during pregnancy up until 12 months postpartum.  Symptoms can vary but the most common ones are

·    Feelings of anger or irritability
·   Lack of interest in the baby
  • Appetite and sleep disturbance
  • Crying and sadness
  • Feelings of guilt, shame or hopelessness
  • Loss of interest, joy or pleasure in things you used to enjoy
  • Possible thoughts of harming the baby or yourself
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it is important to know that they are temporary and treatable with professional help. It is not your fault. You can contact Postpartum Support International (www.postpartum.net ) or call its warmline at 1-800-944-4PPD to learn more and find resources in your area.  

7.  Is there anything you would like to add?   I appreciate the opportunity to increase awareness of mental health issues.  Thank you for the interview and for all you do in the area of charity and volunteer promotion.  Volunteering changes the lives of everyone involved.  If anyone is interested in learning more, please visit my website at www.jennifermoyer.com.  You can also subscribe to my blog at www.jennifermoyer.com/blog and visit my Facebook page at www.facebook.com/jenniferhmoyer.
No matter what you may be facing, remember you are not alone and things can get better with help.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Be Blue This Month

May is a month of health awareness, from mental health (which I’ll be featuring next week) to arthritis to National Stuttering Awareness Week this week.

While we’re fighting the blues for national mental health awareness month, the Arthritis National Research Foundation is asking people to Go Blue for Arthritis Awareness Month and wear blue clothing the whole month to get people to talk about arthritis. You can upload photos of yourself wearing blue at their Facebook page and can win a water bottle or autographed hat from professional golfer Kristy McPherson.

I’m choosing today to talk about arthritis because it affects so many people, 50 million according to the Arthritis Foundation.  That’s one in five, making it the nation’s most common cause of disability.

There’s an old joke that an elderly lady told her pastor that she sees three men each day—Will Power to get her up in the morning, Arthur Itis with whom she goes from to joint to joint and Ben Gay to finish off her day. 

But it’s not only the elderly that get arthritis and the Arthritis Foundation’s Juvenile Arthritis Conference is coming up in July. Actually, about two thirds of people who have arthritis are under 65.

The Arthritis Foundation has put together an A to Z list of things you can do for Arthritis Action Month from advocating to uploading pictures of how you’ve taken action to change the course of arthritis.

If you want to sweat for arthritis research, you can try the Arthritis Walks throughout the year, the Jingle Bell Runs in December, or even train to walk or run a marathon or half marathon through Joints in Motion.  I’ve run a Jingle Bell Run myself and it’s a great way to get some exercise and help the cause.

In October, the Arthritis Foundation sponsors Bone Bashes, or Halloween themed parties, to raise money for research. You can also find other Arthritis Foundation fundraising events here.

This year is the first World Autoimmune Arthritis Day (WAAD) next Sunday, on May 20th, 2012.  It’s a 47 hour virtual convention, featuring presentations, chat sessions, a resource room and more. Registration is free at the event site and there’s a YouTube video about it with contact information, too.  Since I saw the video, I can’t get the Twisted Sister song out of my head “We’re Not Gonna Take It.”

That’s the attitude to have when it comes to arthritis, because studies have shown that physical activity is important in reducing pain and improving the quality of life for people with arthritis.  With arthritis, you've got to fight back for your quality of life.

In fact, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention suggests doing 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity per week or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity per week  plus muscle strengthening exercises for two or more days per week and balance exercises for three days per week if at risk of falling. The CDC also offers other great information on arthritis.

So this is the month to learn something new about arthritis, wear some blue and maybe share what you learned with someone else.  I learned a lot putting this blog together and feel better knowing I helped raise money for such an important cause when I did the Jingle Bell Run.  

Friday, May 4, 2012

Say “I Do” to Loving Others As Much as Yourselves

The most popular month historically to say “I do” is coming up in less than thirty days so I wanted to share some resources for happy nuptials not only for the lucky couple but also the charity of their choice.

 
Have you heard of charity wedding registries?  They are the hippest way to share your joy with those less fortunate.  A couple makes a charity registry when they choose a charity or more than one and ask their friends and family to make donations in lieu of wedding gifts.

 
There are several places that allow you to do them like JustGive.org and the Wedding Channel, but they are all supported through the I Do Foundation.  Working with nearly 50,000 couples a year, the I Do Foundation has granted more than $6 million to charity from its start in 2002 to 2009.   

 
Besides charity registries, the I Do Foundation also allows you to give wedding favor cards showing that a donation has been made by the happy couple for their guests. You can order cards or print the cards out yourself to put out at the wedding or have the cards emailed to your wedding guests. There are fees from the printing company for the printed cards and some smaller fees for the e-cards or the cards you print yourself.

 
The I Do Foundation also offers GiveNow cards for attendant gifts.  These cards are like the Good cards I mentioned at Christmas time. You choose the amount of the card and the receiver chooses the charity to which it goes.  Like the wedding favor cards, you can email or print the cards, choosing your own design, or have the cards mailed for you using the standard one.  There’s a five dollar fee for each GiveNow card.

 
If you want to do something for charity, but are a couple that needs gifts, you still have the option to have a percentage of what others spend on your gifts go to charity.   You can choose stores when you sign up like Macy's, Crate & Barrel, Target, Bloomingdale's, Pottery Barn, Belk and more. Right now if you go through the I Do Foundation, you can get up to five percent of the gift’s value given to a charity, but that’s only through August.

 
Starting in September, the I Do Foundation will no longer do the gift registries, only the Wedding Channel will.  They only provide up to a three percent donation on gifts.  The Wedding Channel charges a 12 percent fee for donations to the charity registry, while the I Do Foundation only charges eight percent (and they will keep doing them after September).

 
You can also do both a charity and a gift registry at the same time.  One of the nice things about the Wedding Channel program is that you will get an email for every donation to the charity registry so you can thank the donors and you can also limit the number of gifts to the charity registry if you like. 

 
For those of you who followed the royal wedding last year, Oxfam and Ebay are also doing a special auction through next Wednesday of wedding services and gifts to benefit Oxfam Unwrapped.  Some of the items cannot be shipped to the United States, but for any of my British followers, there are an array of flower, photography, makeup, travel and pampering services for sale, as well as headbands, earrings and tiaras for everyone.

 
I’ve been married for 15 years now so these services weren’t available when I tied the knot, but I wish they had been.  For any of you out there looking to spend the rest of your life with the love of it, get started off right by sharing your love with others.